Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Christina and Alex's farm

We’ve arrived!  After contacting over 40 different WWOOF (worldwide opportunities on organic farms) farms in Argentina and Chile, we finally found a place to take us on.  Understandably most places we’ve emailed haven’t been so keen on a family of four coming to their farm to “help” but Alex and Christina on their small farm outside of Bariloche have just the place we’ve been hoping we’d come across. 
It is a beautiful farm.  Located in a deep valley between Lake Gutierrez and Lake Mascardi, it is surrounded by mountains and lots of thick trees.  Right in this spot the continental divide runs through the valley, so rivers on one side of the valley run to the Atlantic Ocean and rivers on the other head to the Pacific.  Although we live pretty close to the divide at home I thought it was pretty cool to be living right smack in the middle of it here but not on a mountain pass like in Colorado.
Christina and Alex's farm sits in the valley between the two lakes and 2 mountain ranges
On the farm they have pigs, sheep, cows, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens and a goat.  They grow all kind of vegetables and some fruit.  We’ve sampled the peas, squash, raspberries, strawberries, onions, eggs, and their homemade bread and jam.  We’re paying some money for our accommodations so we’re not exactly working to earn our keep, but we are working each morning in exchange for all the fresh produce and eggs we can eat.  We think it’s a great deal.
Home sweet home
There are also five cats here so Harper is in heaven!
Each morning the kids help feed the animals.  Being on Argentina time that doesn’t happen until 8:30am (compared to 6:30am start of the day at Rio Muchacho.)   Harper and Cal collect eggs from the chickens and then feed all the birds and the rabbits.  After that we have a morning job that we all get to do together.  One morning we spent from nine to noon harvesting peas and collecting the old dried out ones for seeds for the next planting.  Danny and I worked all morning and the kids worked some and played some. 

Cal and Danny feed the geese
Harvesting peas
We are staying in a cottage that was built in the early 1900s.  It has all the original wood walls and no insulation so we can hear every little whisper around the house.  Walking into it was like going back in time.  There is an old black metal wood stove in the kitchen (but thankfully a gas range is parked next to it.)  The cottage is full of old dishes, antique furniture and an old piano.  It is a hoot.  I have to admit I feel a little like my childhood hero Laura Ingalls Wilder. 
Our second night here Alex and Christina invited us to make dinner with them.  Together with the other two wwoof volunteers and their college-aged daughter we made gnocchi, pomodore sauce, salad, and bread.  Alex showed us how to roll out the gnocchi and then we all got to help make them.  Cal and Harper loved rolling out the dough and chopping off the little pieces.  I made the pasta sauce from all the fresh veggies they picked earlier that day.  Christina made the bread and without measuring anything the crusty bread that she pulled out of the oven an hour later was perfect. 
Cal takes his gnocchi-making instructions from Alex very seriously.
One of the great parts of being here with Alex and Christina is that they don’t speak any English.  One of the volunteers is from the states and the other is from France, and Spanish is the one language we all have in common.  During a lot of our recent traveling we have stayed with expats and haven’t been speaking much Spanish, so it has been nice to get to practice our Spanish again.  I feel like I haven’t made nearly the gains I had hoped this trip.  Argentine Spanish is different than what I learned in school, but I love the way it sounds.  It is hard to explain but the “y” sound is pronounced more like “zsh” (like viZSHion.)

Monday afternoon after lunch we took a hike to a nearby river.  We left from the farm and hiked up into the woods underneath the canopy of huge tall beech trees.  The kids were babbling away the whole hike, happy to be out exploring.  At the river we spent hours just throwing rocks, climbing around on all the boulders and floating sticks down the current.  It was a great afternoon and the kids were really in their element. 

Some of the other days we spent the afternoon at one of the two nearby lakes.  The water is crystal clear and trees surround the lakes.  Cal’s newest favorite game is where he finds a huge downed log and pushes it around in the lake as his boat.  Harper spends most of her lake time climbing on the fallen trees and balancing over the water.  It is a Waldkinder kids’ paradise here and we think about Harper’s preschool teacher often.
The water is amazing clear!
Cal and his boat
We stay here at the farm for the next five days and then on Tuesday we fly south to el Calafate to meet us with Danny’s folks.  We are so happy we’ve been able to find a farm that is such a great match for our family here before heading on to Patagonia.

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